29
Mar 17

Amonkhet Masterpieces – Abomination Series

In 2 of the last 3 Magic: The Gathering blocks they have included ultra super mega rare cards called Masterpieces. These were of a different theme and style each time. Zendikar had Expeditions. Kaladesh had Inventions. The intention is to do this kind of thing in all Standard sets.

After seeing the new ones for Amonkhet I immediately thought they were horrible.

I’ll make the assumption that you are familiar with normal magic cards, so here are the problems that stand out in order of importance for me:

Font used for the name of the card and typeline

Without knowing the name of this card would you be able to read that and tell it correctly immediately.

If you can, do you think everyone can? Including those with visual problems? There is someone who regularly comes to pre-releases at my store who has to pick up new cards and move them right up to their nose to read them.

What about people in other countries? These are all going to be in English. For someone who doesn’t speak English, or a latin character based language how easy would it be to read what those characters are?

What about a new player who is not familiar with what one of them does? The rationale of Russian foils and Elesh Norn phyrexian language cards being the same falls apart when you realise a new player at their first pre-release won’t open one of them or face it across the table.

Extra characters on the type line

The problem of the font being hard to read is made worse by it being padded by similar characters to either side.

Colour identity of card

It took seeing a number of these cards before I could tell what the colour identity was. Normally the frame shows that, including for multicolour cards.

The other clue of the casting cost is also gone. You don’t realise how much you subconsciously used the colour of the casting cost as well as the symbol before it was removed.

Artwork size

There is a comparison image I found, with unattributed source unfortunately. this shows various printings of Wrath of God. This shows the art to be about 10% smaller. You can also see gradual changes to the style of cards over the years as well as a full art textless one.

Orientalism

Whilst it is great to use sets based on real cultures there is a feint whiff of Orientalism to the whole thing. This may be unfounded so I won’t expand.

Border Colour

There are rules about the border colour of cards being used in tournaments (I’ll leave aside my support for more gold and silver bordered sets). I didn’t initially realise these count as black bordered. Mainly because the border is a mess.

There are some good things about the design though:

It’s good to try out new ideas. One response I saw repeated though was that this was trying too many things all at once. There were mock ups where the font on the name and type line were left using the normal font and they look a lot better and probably wouldn’t have resulted in the same volume of negative reactions. One repeated image on twitter was the car designed by Homer Simpson where he changed practically everything to suit himself and it resulted in a complete mess.

The art is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s reduced in size.

The theme is spot on. Leaving aside my worry about it veering into Orientalism, for a set which is inspired by Egyptian mythology it’s bang on for style.

Centring text looks pretty good. Some of the mock ups of improving text showed the text still centred and it looks cool.

Overall I’m pretty disappointed with these. Masterpieces in the sets they have been included with have been seen as lottery tickets. Ultra rare cards which probably have a high demand and you can throw in a commander deck. These would stand out from every other cards in lot’s of negative ways.

Mostly though, I’m disappointed that the accessibility issues of these cards hasn’t been considered a high enough priority to put a halt to them at some point in the design process. The worst part of this being that even if these are only printed in this and the next set then they will be around forever. They can also be encountered in multiple versions of the game – Modern, Legacy, Commander so we will face seeing them across table and not being able to read them, or recognise them (based on new art) for the foreseeable future.


01
Jun 15

A year of Magic

After starting playing Magic at the start of 2013, the last year has seen me improve a lot and play a lot more. I’ve tried to not let it overtake all my other nerdery (board games, computer games etc), but it does tend to dominate.

2014 saw me go to a number of events and for the next yearly period (Jun 02 2014-May 31 2015) I set myself some goals. Time to see how well I did.

Seasonal Score: 400

400 points per season was the marker to get 1 bye at a Grand Prix so I wanted to hit this each season. Wizards then decided to change the bye policy. So don’t know if I hit that or not. I’ll assume I did as my score for the year is more than 4 times that.

Yearly Score: 1300

After the bye scoring was changed I decided I would instead target 1300 points for the year to make sure I then got 1 bye all the next year. I actually hit 2250 so that reached the next target of 2 byes. So for the 2015/2016 season I will have 2 byes at every Grand Prix I attend.

Scottish Season 2014-2015 showing some local players too

Scottish Season 2014-2015 showing some local players too

Scotland Lifetime: Top 100

I ended up being 75th which was pretty cool. Seeing someone you know a few points ahead of you in the lifetime or yearly standings was a good motivation to keep going to events. I know for lots of people they never even look at these stats but I found it a good marker to keep track of progress.

Scottish Lifetime Rankings

Scottish Lifetime Rankings

Grand Prix: attend at least two

I ended up attending Utrecht and Liverpool. I did awful at them but that’s not the point :D. They were two different formats: Standard and Sealed.

Pro Tour Qualifier: Positive Record

4-3-0, 1-2-0, 4-3-0
Were an improvement on the previous years 4-4-0 and 2-4-0. I dropped in the second one as the World Cup Trials were happening for the World Cup Qualifier the next day – getting a bye in that seemed more important when my score meant I couldn’t top 8.

World Cup Qualifier: Attend all three

After attending only Dundee ones I wanted to travel to all three.
3-4-0, 3-4-0 and 3-4-1 would have probably been good for me at the start of the year.

When Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers were announced I decided I would try to:

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers: Make 1 top 8 per season

I achieved this by losing a final with Red (splash white) Standard in Season 1 and losing a semi final with Goblins Modern in Season 2.

Leave Dundee for some events

The previous year I had only attended events in Dundee, and in Manchester whilst visiting for work. Over the last year I have attended 2 Grand Prixs as well as competitive events in Glasgow (Spellbound and Geek Retreat), Black Lion Edinburgh, Common Ground Stirling and Little Shop of Heroes Dunfermline.

Other changes over the year

I think the biggest downside of the year was the closure of Major Arcana. It left Highlander Games being the sole games shop in Dundee. The ownership of Highlander also changed.

Goals for next Year:

I swithered over whether to publish my goals for next year but sod it. I have set a pile of goals which try to improve on last year without needing me to dedicate the time that would make Wizard Poker take over even more of my spare time.

Grand Prix: attend at least 2, have positive record

London is one, any other UK ones (don’t think there are any) and then at least one in mainland Europe is the plan.

World Magic Cup Qualifier: attend all three, positive record in all, top 8 in one

This time last year I was barely using a proper deck, over the last year I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the meta game and trying to have a standard deck based around it. Instead of trading random bulk rares for more I’ve been trading into staples – for example getting a playset of all the fetchlands early on. Having hit top 8 at some competitive events but with a poor record (2/9?) I would hope to hit 1 out of 3 for these. This is a stretch goal and I doubt I’ll hit it.

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier: top 8 at least once per season, win once

Having hit one top 8 per season I think I should try to sustain that, qualifying for one Regional Pro Tour Qualifier being a supplemental goal.

Regular constructed: win at least once per month

Over the last year I have improved a lot at constructed and now almost always have a positive record at the end of the night. I want to make sure this continues by winning at least one event per month.

Yearly overall: Hit 2250 points again

At the start of the last year I aimed to hit about 2/3rds of this. Hitting the same total again this year reduces need to go to Grand Prix Trials for the next year and helps give an incentive to go to more Grand Prixs.

Scotland Lifetime: Top 50

This year I hit 75, so lets see if I can hit number 50 this year. Over the last year I leapfrogged a few people I know don’t play very much any more so if the 25 players above me still play regularly this could be not possible. Right now I am at 3603 points. So if I meet the previous goal that would put me at 5853 points which would as of right now mean 38th so it seems a good midpoint to account for that.

Visit other Scottish games shops: Competitive Events at each store once

I haven’t attended competitive events at Bus Stop Largs, due to the pain in the arse travelling there from Dundee. At least two other shops in Scotland are trying to qualify to be able to host competitive events. So right now it’s Go to a PPTQ at Largs but that may change over the course of the year.

Goal Setting

Goals concept on blackboard

Goals concept on blackboard

So having made all these it should be obvious that they all feed into each other creating a feedback loop. If I don’t attend many events I won’t get the points total. Without the points total I won’t climb the Scottish Lifetime rankings. Doing less events means hitting targets for wins/top 8s becomes more difficult. I’ve tried to create a list of goals which all refer to each other. If I start slipping in one it leads to failing the others so creates motivation (for me) to keep on playing in the way I am and to improve. I also tried to make them all stretches but achievable if I just do a bit better than I did last year.

How do you set goals for competitive gaming? Do you aim for the same as last year? Do you just note landmarks along the way of improvement?

Lifetime Stats

Now after writing about the last year here’s my lifetime stats (via Xamleeg) so can you see on the scale of new player to great player I’m currently at middle of road player.

Overall record: 485 wins, 517 losses, 18 draws
Win percentage ignoring draws: 48%

So I’m still under 50% and playing catch up from when I first started.

Formats

I’ll take out the formats I’ve played 10 or less matches at.

Regular Constructed:

Standard: Overall record: 210-251-10, Wins: 46%

Still below positive although recently I have been having a positive record most nights so hopefully next year I’ll get above 50%.

Modern: Overall record: 85-82-1, Wins: 51%

So I have sneaked ahead into positive in Modern. Goblins OP

Block Constructed: Overall record: 12-20-1, Wins: 38%

Reflects how bad my deck was during Theros block. Looks unlikely to change as that format is kinda binned.

Limited Formats

Booster Draft: Overall record: 80-94-3, Wins: 46%

Still below positive in drafts.

Sealed: Overall record: 59-51-2, Wins: 54%

Above positive in Sealed. The format has always been my favourite limited format.

Trios – Limited: Overall record: 11-8-1, Wins: 58%

Positive here, although I seem to remember it mostly being down to my teammates in these matches.

Tournament type

Competitive events and their feeders

Magic Pro Tour Qualifier: Overall record: 15-16-0, Wins: 49%

This type of tournament has now been retired so looks like I will forever be negative here.

Magic Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier: Overall record: 39-27-3, Wins: 59%

Dragged up by two top 8 finishes.

World Magic Cup Qualifier Trials: Overall record: 4-3-0, Wins: 58%

Positive here although I can’t seem to remember doing well at them.

World Magic Cup Qualifier: Overall record: 11-15-1, Wins: 42%

Seems my bad first two tries in Dundee dragged me down a bit. Last year I went to all three which will have improved score somewhat.

Magic Grand Prix: Overall record: 9-13-0, Wins: 41%

Seems about right, I’ve sucked at every one I’ve attended.

Magic Grand Prix Trial: Overall record: 37-45-4, Wins: 45%

I’ve won one and lost a couple of finals so expected this to be higher, oh well.

Public Event at Grand Prix: Overall record: 15-11-0, Wins: 58%

Annoyingly a pile of public events at Grand Prixs went down as casual, like Chaos Drafts, so I never got the points boost from them.

Magic Prerelease: Overall record: 55-44-2, Wins: 56%

These tend to be sealed so that may help explain my positive record there.

Magic Game Day: Overall record: 15-21-1, Wins: 42%

The last year I have barely made any of these which hasn’t helped boost record up.

Friday Night Magic: Overall record: 51-37-2, Wins: 58%

A positive record here which is good.

Magic Tournament: Overall record: 215-275-5, Wins: 44%

The generic bucket for sanctioned events, not positive here yet.


09
Mar 15

A minor lesson for Magic sealed pools

I’m just back from a fun trip to Grand Prix Liverpool for Magic the Gathering.

A good weekend, some fun games and of course the main event.

The way a sealed pool works at an event like this is, you open 6 packs and have 10 minutes to register all the cards against a checklist, removing the basic lands. You then pass to someone else following instructions, so it may be swap with person opposite pass left twice or similar. You then have 20 minutes to check against the registered cards, build a deck and then register which cards you are using. I was quite rushed and ended up making a couple of wrong cuts and sideboarding in some cards in later games which should have been mainboarded.

I built my deck, played my rounds of Magic and ended up winning 6 and losing 3. The cut to make day 2 of the main event was 7 wins and 2 losses so I fell short. My Sunday was spent playing side events before travelling back.

GPLiverpoolPlacing

I finished up 353 of 1772 which is top 20%, so respectable but not amazing.

When I stripped apart my deck I noticed something unusual though, I only had 5 rares. Now when I checked the pool I noticed there were less than 45 cards in each set (15 per pack * 3packs * 2 sets) but put this down to the basic lands being removed.

GPLiverpoolPool

Edit: When I later checked it appears I was missing 1 rare from Fate Reforged and either a common or a foil from Khans of Tarkir. When I was registering I was focusing on building the deck and registering correctly, I didn’t even think to count the rares. So one of three things has happened:

  1. I have lost 1 rare from this pool
  2. The person registering the pool lost 1 rare from this pool
  3. The person registering the pool stole 1 rare from this pool

So it was either down to me being careless, someone else being careless or someone else being malicious.

I don’t know which it is, but I now have a new thing to remember to do and remind others to do:
Count the rare cards in your sealed pool

The kicker though: you aren’t seated randomly, you are seated alphabetically, so the chances of me being seated near this person again at a future large event in the UK are extremely high if we both attend, although the chance of him passing his pool to me are based on the instructions given for the randomisation.


02
Feb 15

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier – Stirling

Wizards in their infinite wisdom decided to change the Pro Tour Qualifier system, now instead of winning a tournament there were a few of a year in Scotland to get to the Pro tour you need to:
Win a tournament there are about 10 per quarter of then
Top 4/8 (size dependent) a tournament that this competition feeds into.

At the first Scottish one ever, in Glasgow, I threw away the chance to Top 8 and it was won by Ferg.
There then followed events in Edinburgh, Glasgow (different shop), Largs and Dundee.

On 31st of January it was the turn of Stirling to host.

I joined the road trip crew of 5 from Dundee and 2 from Aberdeen to make it through. We were stuck in traffic for a bit due to Aberdeen fans making their way through to Hampden to get pumped by Dundee United due to having to cross the city to pick up cards.

We arrived at Stirling and for most of us it was our first visit to Common Ground Games. We were pretty blown away, a large retail space, with kitchen area making teas/toasties etc, massive gaming area with huge wargaming tables plus tables for about 50-60 players.

After the latest set release I knew my Super Aggro Red was in a bad place so I switched to big red devotion. I looked at a few lists online, and annoyingly can’t remember where the one I closely copied from originated from. Apologies and thanks to the mystery brewer.

Round 1 vs Steven Youngson (Green Blue)

I sat down at probably the lowest table to play my first round opponent. This was his first ever competitive tournament and hadn’t been playing for too long. This meant I could be facing someone who net-decked or brewed so couldn’t really play around a known deck strategy.

Game 1 he plays a couple of morphed Sagu Maulers and I burn them whilst beating down with flyers and Goblin Rabblemaster tokens.

Game 2 I bring he goes on the play and I get down to about 14 but his 2/2 and 1/1 creatures can’t race mine and I think I played and Eidolon of the Great Revel early causing most of that.

His deck seemed ok but he had jammed in a Planeswalker cos he had it etc, definitely a home brew.

Round 2 vs Phil Dalbeck (Blue White Heroic) 1-0 (2-0)

I was worried about this match up as Crater’s Claws can’t remove lots of his threats and he can give protection to those I can whilst I only had sorcery speed removal.

I win game 1 with some Goblin tokens, flyers and a Purphoros, God of the Forge.

Game 2 I lose with my opponent on 25 life, I think I was flooding out and he put an Aqueous Form on a dude making him unblockable.

Game 3 got to a point where I was at 3 life, dreading one of his two creatures becoming unblockable.

The turning point was him being on 8. I have a Stormbreath Dragon and a morphed Ashcloud Phoenix with 6 mana open. He has two creatures. He, declares attackers, then gives one of them protection from red, saying out loud that means his other creature would kill a blocking dragon.

I block the pro-red creature with my morph and the other creature with the dragon. I then unmorph the phoenix dealing him 2. After damage my phoenix dies, coming back as a 2/2 morph. My Dragon survives – to his surprise. On my turn I pay 1 to return a phoenix from the bin and hit him for 10.

Round 3 vs Scott Gibson (Junk, sorry Abzan) 2-0 (4-1)

Game 1 he drops two Siege Rhinos, the first of whom I had to Chained to the Rocks to make sure my tokens could get through, whilst being very worried. I win this with dragons.

Game 2 he wrecks me with Rhinos.

Game 3 I got my Glare of Heresys in and manage to deal with his board not taking a point of damage.

Round 4 vs Peter Deane (Blue Black Control) 3-0 (6-2)

Although my deck is the favourite against most control decks I was worried to be facing a player I knew of as a regular in top 8s and the like.

Game 1 I win the dice roll and manage to resolve a Purphorous, he is trying to find an answer whilst Goblin Rabblemaster and Purphoros do the work.

Game 2 I think went down to tokens again, didn’t make enough notes on pad 🙁

Round 5 vs Ross Jenkins 4-0 (8-2)

We were the only players on 4-0 – there were lots of draws due to the high number of control decks. Intentional Draw locks us both in the top 8.

Round 6 vs Andrew Rayner 4-0-1 (8-2-3)

Another ID and we watch for Gary Campbell vs Stuart to see which one of our travel group wouldn’t make it. Gary eventually won.

PPTQStirling

Looking at the placings going into round 6 shows how well our group had done. Brad added as a former Highlander Games player.

In the end 5 of our 7 from the North East made top 8 with Brad making it too.

Quarter Final vs Duncan Tang (BUG Control) 4-0-2 (8-2-6)

I was drawn against Duncan from Glasgow, based on our decks I expected to do well but he is a very good player, regularly top8s and quite often plays the deck style he had chosen.

In the end I finish game 1 on 20 life, his removal/counters couldn’t keep up with my threats.

Game 2 I bring in Erase, expecting to see Courser of Kruphix as I didn’t know the deck list and he barely played anything in game 1. I scooped when he had two Garruk wolves and a deathdealer whilst I was on 7 with a 2/2. Even if I block the deathdealer I go to 1 and he then has 4 creatures whilst he is on 19.

Game 3 I come out racing and dash out a Mardu Scout, play a Goblin Rabblemaster and then dash two scouts. He’s on 2 going into his turn 4 – one turn early for the wrath which could save him.

I shake the hand and say I’ll see him in Dunfermline (the next PPTQ) laughing that I won’t progress.

Semi Final vs Bradley Barclay (Black Blue Control) 5-0-2 (10-3-6)

The other semi is Andrew vs Ross so one of the group is making it. I’m facing one of the best constructed magic players in the UK so am not expecting it to be me.

Game 1 is some dashed Mardu Scout and Goblin Rabblemaster fun times.

Game 2 I hold up a Crater’s Claws in hand and gradually bait out his removal/counter spells for him to be tapped out to be able to cast it for exact damage.

Somehow I win 2-0 not dropping a point of life.

Final vs Ross Jenkins (Black Blue Control) 6-0-2 (12-3-6)

My first ever tournament top 8 at a higher than GPT level and I make the final. I’m pretty stoked but not expecting to win. Ross had only dropped one game all day so was at 12-1-6 showing how well he was playing.

In game 1 I get him down to 6 but he either counters or kills all I have and manages to kill me with a Pearl Lake Ancient. I eventually ran out of gas and kept drawing land. After the game I noticed a Phoenix in the bin I had forgotten to bring back but work out it would have only got an extra two damage in so made no difference.

In Game 2 I dash out scouts to avoid his sorcery speed removal and his Fountain lands gaining life stabilise him at 17 for a while before I manage to break through with a Dragon.

I take Ross’s second game of the tournament.

Game 3 I am on the draw and my opening hand is a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Mountain, 3 drop and then 4/5 drops. I know if I get the 2 lands by turn 4 I am in good stead but if I miss even one of those I’m dead, especially if he Thoughtseizes me at least once. I make a terrible decision to mull. My 6 contains 1 land so it’s 5 which contains a Chained to the Rocks and 4 land. I know I can play anything I draw and can’t go lower but it’s a terrible hand. I resolve a Chandra on 4, which is killed as my first spell. He has a hand full of answers and I’m drawing no questions. On turn 10 I missed my first land drop as I had drawn a second Nykthos. I ended the game with 3 Nykthos in hand and my opponent on 27 life.

Ross wins a well deserved victory and it’s back to grinding for me.

A good day all round, our team does fantastically, a visit to a new awesome shop, and I am now a single match win away from a bye at any Grand Prix I go to this year or next, and Dundee United get through to the Scottish Cup Final.

All that was left was a spicy haggis pudding and the short drive home.


01
May 14

MtG Journey Into Nyx Pre-Release

The new Set of magic was out and with the Manchester Grand Prix coming up it was our first chance to see the cards which we will add to existing decks or build new ones.

The first day I opened an absolutely insane pool with 5 Blue/Black cards, a temple and a Keranos which I splashed for. The deck I came up with was this:

With a new plugin which displays cards on hover here’s the Sealed Pool Day One:

Creatures: (14)
Rotted Hulk
Crackling Triton
Crystalline Nautilus
Servant of Tymaret
Siren of the Silent Song
Sealock Monster
Disciple of Deceit
Doomwake Giant
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Master of the Feast
Tromokratis
Keranos, God of Storms

Spells: (8)
Read the Bones
Griptide
Lash of the Whip
Pin to the Earth
Hubris
Asphyxiate

Fixing: (1)
Traveler’s Amulet

Land: (17)
Temple of Mystery
Mountain
Island
Swamp

Board: (6)
Sea God’s Revenge
Oracle’s Insight
Thassa’s Bounty
Dark Betrayal
Retraction Helix

The removal was pretty sweet so I was looking forward to running it.

Round 1 vs Tom Bull

After a long weekend I can’t remember the details of this match and didn’t write down their decktype so can’t remember it. They mulled in first game and I win 2-0. In game one they scooped on 12 when I had a massive board presence and had cleared theirs.

Round 2 vs Craig Low (Black White), 1-0 (2-0)

My life didn’t drop below 16 in either game and my two Dark Betrayal‘s in the board replaced the Asphyxiate and Lash of the Whip to reduce the removal cost.

Round 3 vs James Bulloch (Red White aggro), 2-0 (4-0)

James is a frequent visitor through to Dundee for events so we chatted a bit before playing and then got it started. I had the nut draws and just dealt with every threat he made once I was on 10 life. On game 2 I managed to stabilise on 11. Pin to the Earth is just so damn good. Sure your 3 drop hasty guy can hit me once and then He’ll be useless. It does miff me that it doesn’t remove flying as that’s the damn name…

Round 4 vs Andy Davies (Black Red), 3-0 (6-0)

Andy is another regular at Highlander so I was pleased one of us would make it through to the final.

Game 1 we slowly beat down at each other and I was finally the victor on 5 life. The Master of the Feast really did the work despite allowing him to draw more cards. Holding him off until I could take control. The dark betrayals immediately came in from the board.

Game 2 he goes up to 26 life with me on 12 and losing control. I manage to topdeck removal and stabilise on 1 life with him on 27. That single point that changes every combat calculation and is the only one that matters. I get out King Macar, the Gold-Cursed and a combat trick allows him to get through and then Inspired on the untap step. I remove his big threat and he’s left with a load of small creatures, the same number of dorks as me and 2 guys pinned to the earth. I exile each guy he drops and slowly grind down until I have a board of 6 creatures to his 2 pinned to the earth. The removal suite in this deck is insane and once I stabilised it was all over. An epic two matches. I’m up against Charlie in the final. His game was next to us and finished early and I just see his horrified looks at what my deck is able to do if it runs right.

Round 5 vs Charie Grant (Blue White flyers), 4-0 (8-0)

I go into the final without dropping a single match and an opponent who is scared of my deck. I try not to be too confident though as if he gets his flyers out before I can deal with them I’m toast.

The first match is an absolute grind fest with him recovering his life and slowly eating away at mine. A chump blocker who regains 1 life every turn is pretty good but I just can’t cope with the amount of flyers he has. Bouncing them just delays the inevitable and he wins through.

In game two I keep a hand with two swamps, a load of Bx cards and 2 bounce spells. The next land I draw is a mountain. Then two more swamps and another mountain. The splash for Keranos kills me by colour screwing me. A sad end to an epic match with a pretty insane sealed pool. Charlie deserves the win as his deck is superb and he plays it really well.

I end up in 3rd due to tiebreakers with 4-1 (8-2) being the record.

Final Vs Charlie

Final Vs Charlie

Sealed Pool Day Two

Creatures: (13)
Cavern Lampad
Pharika’s Chosen
Sigiled Starfish
Servant of Tymaret
Squelching Leeches
Cloaked Siren
Mnemonic Wall
Rotted Hulk
Chorus of the Tides
Shipwreck Singer
Whitewater Naiads
Doomwaker Giant

Spells: (10)
Viper’s Kiss
Bile Blight
Pharika’s Cure
Asphixiate
Feast of Dreams
Font of Fortunes
Fate Foretold
Pin to the Earth
Silence the Believers

Land: (17)
10 Swamp
Island

Board: (3)
Hour of Need
Feast of Dreams
Viper’s Kiss

Round 1 vs Steven Clark (White Black)

In the first match against Steven he said this was his 10th ever match. After we started I felt pretty bad as he was making a few obviously less than optimal plays and my deck was pretty decent. I pointed out his triggers and ability to drain me life at the end of my turn and so on. I also suggested he not play his new creatures before attacking tapped out etc (a bad habit I had from a Portal Starter set until someone pointed it out). This is what pre-releases are for though. New players playing with new sets and learning the new mechanics.

Round 2 vs Fraser Madden (Red Green), 1-0 (2-0)

I win the first game with my two deathtouch snakes holding off the aggro attack. A 2-0 win from some topdecking where I get every answer when I need it.

Round 3 vs Ray Doyle (Red White), 2-0 (4-0)

Great, up against one of the best players in the shop and I expect to lose badly. You know sitting down he will make no misplays. Ray also scoops his cards when he knows it’s done to quickly move onto the next game.

Ray keeps a poor hand and scoops on 16 after I lock his board down. He smashes through me in game 2 when I get mana screwed and draw nothing but fat. Game 3 is a bit more even but then he controls the board and I have nothing.

Round 4 vs Robert Meek (Green Black), 2-1 (5-2)

A decisive win in game one with some fat just blocking his board until I can get through. Get the Exile cards and can wipe it all and smash through.

Game two is a slow one with Servant of Tymaret eating away at live.

Round 5 vs Simon Larg (Red White), 3-1 (7-2)

Simon playing an aggro deck is a bit of a worry. In game one I hold him off before defeating him with the fat. Game two he smashes through my defences before I can stabilise at all ending on 23 life himself.

It’s all down to game three. A few turns in I get out Shipwreck Singer and his eyes pop open looking at his field of X/1s. I slowly grind away forcing his guys to attack and either reducing toughness to 0 or blocking with fat to kill whilst holding back bounce spells in case he does shenanigans. By the end of the game his graveyard is massive and when checking he only had 5 creatures left in his deck. A 2-1 win puts me in contention to top 4.

Round 6 vs Fraser Lawson (Black White), 4-1 (9-3)

Fraser has the advantage of me having watched the end of the game. He doesn’t have much to worry about in game one. He kills me in blobs of five ending on 20 life having wavered a bit.

Game two I get some damage in but he get’s 2 final points of damage in before I can get in the 3 I need against him.

Some awesome games and I finish 7th with 4-2 (9-5) record. The deck was nowhere near as good as the previous one and so it seemed a decent finish with it.

Pre-release weekend

Apparently some unlucky chump also opened a pack they dubbed The ByeDeck.dek and scrubbed out only winning the bye. The shop owner looked over it afterwards declaring There’s not 5 playables in any colour. It would suck to be that guy.


14
Apr 14

MtG -Warsaw Grand Prix Trial

This Sunday saw the Grand Prix Trial take place for Warsaw. I was mostly interested in points to grind to try and get a bye for Grand Prix Manchester. At constructed on Thursday, my Mono Black Devotion deck was pretty poor. This was not helped by three of the four match ups being against Green which has recently been a bit tougher due to hexproof and the card advantage they get. I had a look round and switched to a Mono Black Devotion deck more able to compete against green, closer to one I ran at the start of Theros.

On Sunday there were only 14 players so I knew 3-1 would get me into top 8, 2-2 might scrape in on tiebreakers but I was still hopeful to top 8.

Round 1 vs Jamie Lessels (Esper)

I had played Jamie before but couldn’t remember how the match up went. After mulling to 6 I got a T1 Thoughtseize taking a Supreme Verdict. He still had one and a Detention Sphere which I later stripped too. I managed to grind away winning game 1. For game two I sided in the 4 Duress and dropped a chunk of removal.

Excellent sideboard card

Excellent sideboard card

We shuffle up and I feel pretty dirty. Turn 1 Duress removes a counter spell. Turn 2 I topdeck a Thoughseize so use that and the other Duress in hand to remove an Elspeth and Verdict. His hand was all land and mine was an Underworld Connections, third land and 3 drop. It was pretty tense though and he wavered between 1-5 life for a few turns slowly removing things until I managed to win through.

Round 2 vs Neil Cuthbertson (Rakdos Aggro), 1-0 (2-0)

A thoughtseize made sure to leave him with a Doom Blade but there was nothing I could do about the number of threats he made. Neil made a number of good plays and decisions on what to play stopping me getting any 2for1s beating me 2-0.

Round 3 vs John Lynch (Red-Green Aggro), 1-1 (2-2)

I guessed he would be playing green and was worried as it gets a lot of extra draw through Planeswalkers and Courser. My opening hand was 3 * Hero’s Downfall an Underworld Connections and 3 swamp so I was pretty confident I could stabilise. I did and managed to slowly eat away his board presence whilst dropping Demons etc. He scooped on 15 life when he had nothing on board, no hand and with me having 3 Mutavaults and 2 Demons on the field whilst being on 6 life.

Game 2 went similar with a scoop on 15 life with no board. He just got flooded out both games.

Round 4 vs Sion Bayliss (Green), 2-1 (4-2)

Winning this match would make me top 8, losing meant I relied on my tiebreakers which I assumed would be quite poor based on results I had heard from previous opponents.

I think over 2 games I saw 3 Polukranos and 4 Courser of Kruphix. Game 1 at one point ended with me having no board, him with 1 of each of them and two planeswalkers. Welcome to scoopsville, population Alan.

Lifegain, sometimes free cards, great blocker. Bah

Lifegain, sometimes free cards, great blocker. Bah

Ho-hum looks like it’s down to tiebreakers.

Results are announced and someone had a durdle deck which resulted in a silly amount of draws pushing me into about 5th place. Bizarre.

Round 5 (quarter) vs Sion Bayliss (Green), 2-2 (4-4)

Hmm when the prize packs are put down for the loser I just move them to my side of the table and say we’ll get on with the formality of you wrecking me again then. Having lost every dice roll all day I was facing an opponent higher in the standings than me who had just smashed me.

I somehow manage to curve out perfectly and get the right removal at the right time winning 2-0.

A bit confused I move on to the semis.

Round 6 (semi) vs Neil Cuthbertson (Rakdos Aggro), 3-2 (6-4)

In some cruel jest I now face the other player who beat me in the Swiss.

Game 1 I manage to strip his hand of removal and drop Demons on curve winning the race and forcing him to sac his board.

Game 2 I rip out both his Hero’s Downfall and manage to beat down with a Demon and Nightveil Specter after he turn 4 Slaughter Games for Gary.

NightveilSpecter

Round 7 (final) vs Colin Lawrie (Dimir control), 4-2 (8-4)

Having won an FNM and been in the final of a couple this was my first proper tournament final.

I catch the end of the other semi and see a mainly creature based deck. I keep a removal heavy hand and am punished for it, removal gets countered and a Master of Waves and Mutavault assault leaves me dead with him on 22 life.

1-0 down against a control deck. Baws.

Game 2 I side in about 9 including the Duress and Bile Blight, Whip etc removing some creatures including some Pack Rats and Demons. I think Lifebane, Nightveil and Mutavault might be a better route. I make a horrible mistake early, dropping an Underworld Connections to bring Erebos live. This is to bait Colin into saccing his Ratchet Bomb on 3 so I can start dropping more Connections and a Demon. He does and I have to buy cards to 1 life to dig out of it. I get a Gary and swing up to 7. Buy again to 1 and then get up to 9. The incremental card advantage ekes me out a victory bringing it to 1-1.

Game 3 and there’s fowk in the shop cheering for each of us. No pressure like. I play an Underworld Connections on Turn 3 which isn’t countered. Colin responds by naming Swamp. For this reason alone I run different temples. By turn 5 I have two Underworld Connections on board. He gradually gets rid of a lot of my creatures and uses Jace to take removal and counter spells. At one point I have the choice between a Syncopate and two Thoughtseize. I know he has a removal spell in hand so I let him get the two Thoughtseize. He takes two cards from me leaving himself with no black open. Next turn I swing with Nightveil Specter getting an Opportunity. That goes well with my two blue sources. I end up buying a lot of cards and end the game with 12 mana and two usable Underworld Connections to his 5 mana. There was not a lot he could do really in the circumstance, bad draws on his end and no extra mana from Jaces left him static for a while whilst I was drawing 3 cards per turn.

Opportunity

I somehow managed to win the Grand Prix trial.

I really felt I was punished for every mistake I made in this match up – getting two for one’d every chance he could. Pretty tough going.

So should I want to go I get two Byes in Warsaw. Let’s hope I can do decently at the next few tourneys to earn a bye for Manchester 107 points down, 293 to go.

LeaderboardAfterGPT


11
Feb 14

This Week, er Fortnight in Gaming

With the tiredness at end of the Magic PTQ I was a bit mashed from gaming so haven’t played as much in the last two weeks.

Within that time there has been the Born of the Gods pre-release/release.

Other games I have managed have included The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game. This was quite enjoyable. I had liked the DC game and the Penny Arcade one is ok so this theme probably appeals to me most out of the three. Would like to play the second one and then them mixed together now though.

I also played some Hearthstone after a few fowk mentioned it. It seemed ok, I quickly unlocked all the base decks and then played one random online game for the achievement but didn’t get further than that.

I played some Settlers of Catan for the first time in ages and it was fun as per.

I avoided Flappy Bird as it looked shit.

And that’s about it really, not a lot of new gaming to report. Let’s see this week.


28
Jan 14

This Week In Gaming

This weeks gaming was taken up by a lot of prep for the Magic PTQ in Dundee on Saturday.

Wednesday 22nd January

I managed to get a couple of test games of Magic against a Red/Green deck, something I lacked experience of, before more people arrived. When they did we broke out Red Dragon Inn and had some hilarity. Once that was done we cracked out the UK edition of Cards Against Humanity for the first time. I enjoyed it more than the US edition due to losing a load of references which are meaningless, replacing them with ones about Jimmy Saville etc. I think the favourite answer I put was for super hero duo where I had Pussy Galore and Dick Fingers which was pretty difficult to compete with. We followed it with some more Red Dragon Inn.

Thursday 23th January

Constructed night at Highlander

Round 1 vs Marcus Heder

I’m playing against an Esper control deck by Marcus who has previously beaten me with it. My Nightveil Specters do the work though and let me cast a Jace and a Divination (countered). Game 2 I forget to side in Mortars for Blood Baron but still manage to push it through winning 2-0.

NightveilSpecter

Round 2 vs Tom Clark

Playing a big red deck played by Tom, who has beaten me with it and then loaned to a friend to beat me with it. I prepare to go 1-1.

Game 1 I win whilst on 1 life after a pretty epic match. I have 2 Blood Crypts in play. My Nightveils let me cast a Fanatic of Mogis and a Stormbreath Dragon. I later manage to Chain a Boros Reckoner to a Blood Crypt. Splashing for shocks/scrys to let this happen has paid off in both matches so far.

Game 2 I lose. Game 3 manage to stabilise and then push through with Demons.

Round 3 vs Marc Mirror Match Ferg Ferguson

The last time we played in a competition it went to to top decking in game 3 with us both on 1 life.

This time I win both matches finishing the final one on 35 after Gary shenanigans.

Round 4 – the final – vs Phi Nguyen

A match against red green monsters has me pretty smashed as he gets way more card draw than I through Garruk. Oh well, I finish 2nd in a 16 person tournament which is pretty good prep for Saturday.

Garruk the cheater cheat card of card advantage

Garruk the cheater cheat card of card advantage

Friday 24th January

FNM at Major Arcana is a must having the PTQ the next day.

Round 1 vs Richard Crosby

I sit down with a player I don’t recognise and have his friend tell me he’s only been playing 2 weeks. Ouch this might be rough. I get an amazing hand and win both games quickly. He’s playing a 2 colour deck which has a few guildgates. It looks ok so I point out some minor mistakes he had made. He had a spare deck with him so I suggested he take that and play and I would play with his deck – open handed explaining my plays as I went. Hopefully it helped – I think he won some games later.

Round 2 vs Anand Alagappan

Great, Anand is a good player playing White/Green which if I don’t have enough removal can take over against me. The first game goes on for ages – The scores swing either way due to Armadillo Cloaked Loxodon Smiters vs my Whip. It’s 4-21 then 14-17; 14-13, 2-25 then 14-13, 22-5. I win a few turns later and Lifebane Zombie is the obvious sideboard option.

Armadillo Cloak 2.0

Armadillo Cloak 2.0

I win game two after managing to pump up two Nightveils, one with a Boon Satyr the other with Armadillo Cloak. Stealing a Forest and splashing for Black White scry pays off again.

Round 3 vs James Goring

He’s White/Black so it’s a case of me Thoughtseizing his Blood Baron and him Sin Collecting my removal. I manage to win 2-0.

Two nights in a row I go into a final round 3-0. This time we are a round short due to lateness and 30 players so we have 3 of us on 3-0.

Round 4 vs John Mc Cartney

And it’s a repeat of last nights final round – Green Red monsters. First game I keep a solid opening hand – 2 Swamps, 2 Pack Rats, Doom Blade and some other removal.

Turn 4 I see no land so swing and kill Domri. Turn 5, same story to kill Xenagos. Turn 6, no mana and this time it’s Garruk my rats kill.

I have a hand of 3-4 drops, 2 * 2/2 Pack Rats and a board opposite of around 8 mana including some mana dorks. It ends with me on 4 mana able to replace a rat, kill one dude or make a Specter each turn.

Game 2 is a repeat. Oh well, I finish 3rd with another 3-1.

Saturday 25th January

I elected to not go out on Friday night (shock), which proved unnecessary. Firstly due to the Scottish record turn out of 139 delaying the start. Secondly due to the result of the first three matches. I had been concerned about being mana screwed a couple of times but hadn’t had time to trial the deck with a sensibly increased count so went with it as is, rather than risk breaking a different element at this late stage. Probably a mistake.

Round 1 vs Jared Stovin

He’s playing Red with a splash of white. He wins first game due to me being totally mana screwed and I win game 2 to come back to 1-1. I totally forget to side against Assemble the Legions and get overwhelmed in game 3.

Black mana black mana, what you gonna do, what you gonna do with no Infest to use

Black mana black mana, what you gonna do, what you gonna do with no Infest to use

Round 2 vs Lewis Crombie

I sit down opposite a player with mono blue, a deck I haven’t faced in months. Crap – no idea what to side etc. I lose the first game to a Thassa. Game 2 I keep a dodgy 1 land keep on the play due to Thoughtseize and not wanting to get even more boned going down to 5 or so. I am pretty resigned to losing at this point anyway. He has the total nut draw and I remove a Thassa still leaving me dead in a few turns if I don’t draw land, which I don’t.

Round 3 vs Craig Banach

None of the locals with Commander decks etc have went 0-2 so I stay in for now. Craig is playing Red Green which is what destroyed me in the last two final games. It’s a repeat story, Garruk drawing more dudes than I can remove. 1-2 and me at 0-3/2-6 whichever way you look at it.

Round 4 vs Michael Little

I sit now facing a new player, whos deck I had given some advice to on Friday.

I win 2-0 with the most memorable move being to face a Heliod, bestowed Hoplite and Fabled Hero. A forced sac leaves him with a Fabled Hero and the God now and enchantment. An attack in match two with 2 pack rats turns into me discarding two cards to make them 4/4s and wrath his board. The other part was not seeing him play a creature so Thoughtseizing to remove a pro-black spell etc so he his hand empty. He had been dropping land for the past 3 turns then moving his hand below table so I hadn’t realised. D’oh!

Round 5 vs Connor Stewart

Sitting at 1-3 and it’s mirror time. I lose game 1 but manage to drop Gary in game two for the win. Game 3 I win so sit at 2-3. I can remember nothing of this match, which is the reason I stopped playing Black before, the games all merge into 1 especially in the mirror. Drop stuff, remove stuff, combat trick, Gary for the win.

Gary super Common

Gary super Common

Round 6 vs Callum Palin

This is a Red White deck, which I always find can overwhelm if I don’t have enough removal. Sure enough he wins Game 1 but I only see mountains so have no idea he will have Assemble the Legions in the board.

Game 2 he drops a Plains and a Favored Hoplite. I Thoughtseize on Turn 2 and see a Daring Skyjet, a burn spell, 2 Madcap Skills and 2 Banisher Priests. Holy crap, he kept a 1 lander that is dodgy but with 2 land would be horrible. I take the Madcap skills and Turn 3 drop a Lifebane Zombie exiling a Banisher Priest (irony etc). I win and then panic. I hadn’t sided in my cards to deal with Assemble the Legions. I go to board saying this and he says with sincerity he doesn’t run it. I believe him and don’t bring them in, shocked. Sure enough he doesn’t as I see after I win the third game.

Post games he says he didn’t know what to side so I point out what he has, I think he took out some cards great against mono-black although it escapes me what now.

Round 7 vs Gary Smith

Another match against a local player. I know his deck, not having played it, but it’s a Red/Green monsters deck. We both say beforehand this is the worst match up for each other. I’m surprised as the creature draw advantage he gets should push him ahead.

I win game 1. For game 2 I bring in Lifebane Zombies but he wins it due to Garruk with one hit giving 4 creatures including a Burning Tree and a Sylvan Caryatid. I manage to win Game 3 which sits me at 4-3. Positive record! Only took 7 matches.

Round 8 vs Alastair Headden

Another Red/White deck, I get mana screwed again and get destroyed in both matches.

That was my second PTQ, the first being Modern, where I borrowed a deck which I had played at one Constructed night and finished 2-4. To come 4-4 at the next is definitely an improvement. I didn’t expect to do much better but had hoped to end with a positive record, especially after the last two constructed tournaments where I ended in top 2/3.

Sunday 26th January

I take it easy chewing the fat at Highlander and grabbing some games of Commander. After tea I get to play Sentinels of the Multiverse but I think either we were lucky or took an awesome selection of characters as we easily beat the boss. Afterwards Higglebottom turned up so I got some pack wars in. My luck continues with him getting value in every pack and me getting trash.

Sentinals

Monday 27th January

A slight household emergency interrupts my plans to get some X-Com in. I settle for some Cockatrice with Ferg where we playtest a deck idea we had. Followed by some Legacy and Modern nonsense.

Tuesday 28th January

Pretty burned out after non-stop Magic all week and then annoyed that my blog post dies at lunchtime I settle for writing this as my gaming thing for the day.


21
Jan 14

This week in gaming

Unfortunately the upcoming PTQ for Magic has dominated this week. then there’s a pre-release weekend and release weekend. I see much cardboard crack in next few weeks.

Wednesday 15th January

Games night in the pub. We got a few games of Jackpot! in followed by about 6 of Resistance. I really liked it but the strategy was foiled by some mistakes on the part of players leading you to get wrong information. And Ewan being completely unable to bluff. L2B n00b.

Jackpot

Thursday 16th January

Played constructed Magic at Highlander going a poor 1-3 winning a bye. Pre-Christmas my deck was regularly posting positive but since then I have done awful with it.

First game against Campbell I make a hilarious mistake in the second match. I sided in Illness in the Ranks for Assemble the Legion in case I didn’t Thoughtseize them all away.

He drops it Turn 5. I top deck Illness and play it. Much laughs.

I have a Nightveil Specter chained to the Rocks and he swings with a Cackler. I stupidly crack a Ratchet Bomb on 1 blowing up my own Illness in the Ranks meaning he can drop his legion of dorks every turn.

Hilarious sideboard card if you aren't stupid enough to ratchet bomb on 1

Hilarious sideboard card if you aren’t stupid enough to ratchet bomb on 1

Ferg sitting next to me rightfully mocks me. Then he plays Campbell next and cracks his on 5 to blow up the Assemble the Legion losing his two Gray Merchants at the same time.

Friday 17th January

The only gaming on Friday was of the awesome new games in the Balcony. Elvis pinball machine for the fun.

Saturday 18th January

I did some minor tweaks and playtesting of deck in preparation for Sundays GPT and raided someones traded in collection for cool stuff. Later at night Dek and I played some pinball with me scoring 37.7 million (yay) and then some Centipede on the old Arcade machine too.

Sunday 19th January

Turned up to the GPT in expectation to maybe finish middle of the table. Last time I top-8’d when there were less than 20 but this one had 34 players. Given the way my deck was running I didn’t expect much.

Round 1 vs Jonathan Isaacs

I had never played Jonathon before so didn’t know what to expect. He said he was running a new deck and hadn’t tested it much so I thought I might be ok.

Game 1 I manage to Thoughtseize away two Elspeths through an Elixir of Immortality and win.

Game 2 he’s on 7 life. I have a whip on board and a Nightveil Specter with lots of goodies in the yard. He has an Elixir in play. I whip in an Erebos. He nods. I declare attacks and swing with 7 power on board. I go to mark lifelink and he says he’s cracking the Elixir. Ray behind me says Erebos and I shrug. If he had cracked it in response to the Whip activation it was fine. So I won due to a misplay by opponent (would probably have won next turn doing similar, I had another Erebos, 2 Gray Merchants and at least one Demon in the yard). Won 2-0

Elixir

Round 2 vs Ferg

A match I have not played to death repeatedly over last few weeks. Ferg won 2-0 as I predicted before we play. Game 1 I was mana screwed, stuck on 3 then eventually 4 mana with a hand of 4/5 drops. I’ve already burned through my removal whilst he drops rat after rat with 9 mana and an Underworld Connections. 1-1 with 2-2 matches.

Round 3 vs Marc McNaughton

I expect this one to be a poor match up, he’s playing GW goodstuff. I win through game 1. Game 2 he smashes through me in about 5 turns.

Game 3 the Judge is standing behind us as not many games are going on.

He has something bestowed with a Booooooooon Satyr (tapped) and a Voice. I have a Nightveil Specter, Erebos and an Underworld Connectiosn out. He’s sitting on 7 life. I kill the Voice and he says It’s my turn. I correct him that it’s my turn and he puts Voice in the graveyard not replacing with a token. I shrug and declare attackers swinging for lethal. He smiles and stretches hand to shake. Then afterwards goes crap I get a token but had already missed the trigger, went through attack step and shook hand in front of a judge. Oops. Another victory due to player error. Normally it’s my opponents who get them!

Voice

Round 4 vs Gabor Kovacs

Gabor is a good player and had been sitting next to me in a previous match. He’s playing BG and I expect to get smashed. Game 1 I get mana screwed he is top decking like a boss so I lose fast.

Game 2 I keep in the Doom Blades as he had tons of Green. Bring in Dark Betrayals and some other changes. My opening hand is 5 land, a Devour Flesh and a Doom Blade. Figuring I at least had two removal I keep a hand I would never had kept in first game but due to mana screw keep. he Thoughtseizes and takes the Devour Flesh. After the match he shows me he sided out all his Green creatures.

Round 5 vs Colin

I keep a hand of removal not knowing what I am up against and then my opponent and I start to play. He is Blue White and we both flood out completely. Any time I manage to get a threat he counters etc giving me at most one attack. I Hero’s Downfalled 3 planeswalkers. Eventually he wins through after I didn’t manage to resolve a single threat whilst having about 13 mana on board I had been at 25 life, and he 2 before he got his Aetherling and enough mana to flicker forever.

After the tournament I got a game of DC Deckbuilder. Stabby raced ahead early and was scoring 13-16 points of power a turn. Smashing both Joe (on his birthday!) and I, at least Ferg dropped to play Lords of Waterdeep so I wasn’t last…

Then some Pack Wars when Ewan turned up later, even with ramping I managed to have 11 land on the table and 2 creatures at one point. Ridiculous.

Monday 20th January

Just Wallabee to take a break from proper gaming.